Ramp druid (EZ Big Druid) is an older archetype of druid that has been missing from the competitive scene for some time. The deck has always had a pretty straightforward game-plan of ramping early and deploying big threats turn after turn in the mid and late-game. The newest iteration of ramp druid is no different in terms of its plan of attack.
Before we go any further, we should get one thing out of the way. This deck is not cheap. It is not close to being cheap. It is not close to being remotely close to being cheap. If you are on a budget, this is not the deck for you. The list in this article is 14,240 dust. To be quite frank, there are very few cards that you can replace and still maintain a serviceable win rate and the cards that are replaceable are some of the commons and rares (not the legendaries).
Update – Ramp Druid August 2017, Season 41
Not many changes to most decks right now. With Knights of the Frozen Throne on the way we’re just waiting to see how decks shape up when it’s released.
Ramp Druid Mulligan Strategy & Guide
The mulligan section will be divided into two parts – against fast decks and against slow decks. Fast decks are generally the Aggro decks (e.g. Pirate Warrior) or high tempo Midrange decks (e.g. Midrange Hunter). Slow decks are slower Midrange and Control decks.
VS FAST DECKS
Higher Priority (keep every time)
- Innervate – Innervate is arguably the strongest card that Druid has access to. It is a card that produces a single fast mana jump (essentially cheating your mana curve). Innervate is incredibly flexible in that you can pair it to cheat out early ramp in the form of Nourish (which will essentially turn the innervate into permanent mana crystals) or Mire Keeper, you can use it to play multiple cheap cards in a turn, and it can be used to ramp out a large minion two turns early.
- Wild Growth – While Wild Growth doesn’t impact the early board against aggro, it ramps you ahead by an entire turn which is invaluable in Hearthstone. Wild Growth and Innervate are cards you will be keeping in every opening hand, regardless of match-ups.
- Wrath – You want to keep Wrath versus aggressive decks to fend off their early pressure and to give you some breathing room to play your ramp cards and big minions. If you don’t survive the early game, your big minions won’t have an impact on the game and Wrath helps you survive.
Lower Priority (keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Tar Creeper – You don’t want to keep Tar Creeper in your hand if it is your only early play. You only want to keep it if you can also supplement your early game with other cheap cards such as Innervate or Wrath. Tar Creeper is a very solid minion, but can find itself outmatched if it is your only play leading up to turn three.
- Ironbeak Owl – Only keep this if you have other removal (similar to Tar Creeper). Ironbeak is a good play against cards like Mark of Y'Shaarj and Frothing Berserker but considering how weak the body is, it shouldn’t be valued too highly when in the mulligan.
- Swipe – Like Tar Creeper and Ironbeak Owl, this should only be kept if you have earlier plays to go along with it. Swipe is a very good removal spell, but it is normally not enough to pull you back into a game from a lost position if it’s your only early play. You want to be pairing Swipe with Wrath or Wild Growth to pick apart their board and isolate minions or to ramp ahead of your opponent and cheat out a Swipe on turn three.
VS SLOW DECKS
Higher Priority (keep every time)
- Innervate – Innervate, as mentioned before, is one of the best cards Druid has access to. Innervate becomes much worse the longer a game goes (because you can’t abuse the extra mana as well later on), so keeping it in your mulligan and using it as early as possible is key. Innervating out Value minions is very valuable in these slow match-ups as it gets you board presence and makes use of the innervates before they become dead draws. While a little less important than in the fast match-ups, Innervate is still great and you should always keep it in your opening hand.
- Wild Growth – Wild Growth is even better in these slower match-ups than in the fast ones. Getting a turn ahead of your opponent in terms of mana access is more valuable in games versus slow strategies as you can jump out ahead of them and begin dictating the pace of the game with your minions. The beautiful thing about Wild Growth is that if you draw it past the first few turns and don’t find yourself needing the ramp, you can always hold it until you have ten mana crystals since it gives you Excess Mana (which is a spell that is zero mana and draws you a card). Theoretically, Wild Growth is never a dead draw in slow match-ups, but it is still best when played on turn two, so keep it when you see it in your opening hand.
- Barnes – Barnes is a slower play, but against slower decks, you are usually given enough breathing room to be a bit greedier with your keeps and your plays. Barnes is an auto-keep because he has such an enormous upside of pulling a minion that gets value (Cairne Bloodhoof, Giant Anaconda, Ysera, Deathwing, Dragonlord, and Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound).
- Mire Keeper – Mire Keeper is a slower Wild Growth, but it also leaves behind a 3/3 body. You’ll want access to as many ramp effects as possible versus slower decks, so Mire Keeper should usually make the cut in the mulligan.
Lower Priority (keep only if certain conditions are met)
- Nourish – Nourish is an incredibly powerful card, but is also quite expensive. As mentioned before, slower decks usually give you a decent amount of breathing room to work with, so keeping Nourish is fine. Personally, I only like to keep Nourish when I have access to the coin and other ramp card already.
Ramp Druid Win Rates
Ramp Druid Play Strategy
Ramp Druid is pretty straightforward and its play-style never truly deviates too much from one match to the next, regardless of match-up. You want to be playing early ramp, gaining a mana advantage and start to deploy a massive minion every turn for the rest of the game. Ramp Druid is a solid choice in a slower metagame like this because it will eventually out-value nearly every slower midrange or control deck since each of its threats are must-kills.
When finding yourself facing aggressive strategies, you’re only real goal for the early game is to survive. You are going to want to pair your early ramp card with removal and transition that into deploying big minions (preferably the ones with taunt). You will usually end games by landing a massive taunt minion and casting an Earthen Scales on it to put yourself out of any potential lethal your opponent may have.
Much like a control deck, Ramp Druid wants to stabilize the board early by clearing off early minions and mitigating as much of the opponent’s damage as possible.
The cards that will usually close out a game for you versus an aggressive strategy are: Earthen Scales, Moonglade Portal, Ancient of War, Primordial Drake, and Deathwing. These cards are the ones that will close out the games, but you need to bridge the gap between the early game and the late/mid-game when you can deploy these cards. It is worth noting that these cards are not good enough on their own most of the time. They are used to get yourself out of burn range or stop an aggressive player’s desperation push and need to have a relatively controlled game-state to be played on. A controlled game-state can be considered as one where your opponent has few cards in hand and few threats on the board. Once you deal with the remaining threats on board and deploy one of the cards listed above, you are usually going to be favored from that position.
The game-plan you are enacting against control decks is much different from that against aggro decks. You want to ramp early (surprised?) and deploy threats for each turn for as long as the game lasts. The reason why ramp druid is so good versus control strategies is that your sheer number of minions outnumbers their removal.
The name of the game here is value. You want to extract as much potential value as possible out of each of your minions. This means holding onto your minions if your opponent has not played a board-clear yet and deploying your card-generating minions first, like Cairne Bloodhoof, The Curator, Ysera, and Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound. These are the cards that give control decks fits because they are almost always going to be 2-for-1s or better in terms of card-for-card value.
After you have exhausted most or all of your opponent’s removal options, you want to deploy your heaviest hitting threats. Deathwing, Dragonlord is one of your best plays after you have exhausted your opponents board clear, since they are going to have to kill it and he can pull out Ysera (or Dragons created by her), Primordial Drake, and Deathwing.
Generally speaking, you are going to be very favored against control decks as long as you don’t overextend into their board clears and manage your minions carefully. While these are favorable matchups, you can easily lose them if you throw your minions at the board with no regard for removal or board clears.
- Nourish should almost always be used for mana crystals if you have less than seven mana crystals. Obviously this is contextual, but the general theory here is: If you die with three extra cards in your hand that you never got to cast, the extra cards were not worth as much as the mana crystals. Of course, if you can cast your spells there is no need to Nourish for mana crystals and you can save it to refuel your hand later on.
- Ironbeak Owl silences a minion. Yes, I just wrote that. You may be thinking to yourself, “Why did he write that? It says it right on the card.” I see the average player forget that silence removes freeze effects more often than not. When playing against Freeze Mage and they Frost Nova or Blizzard your board, you can always Ironbeak a large minion to pop their Ice Block if you have the opportunity.
- Ironbeak Owl (or your silence minion of choice) can also be used offensively to silence a minion pulled out with Barnes. If you were to pull a Deathwing, for instance, you can silence the 1/1 copy from Barnes and it will become a 12/12. The same is true for any minion pulled with Barnes – it will buff the copied minion to its original stats. Just be careful not to do this to a deathrattle minion, Ysera, or Y'Shaarj, Rage Unbound unless you are in desperate need of the stats over the value those cards generate.
- A major mistake that many novice Druid players make is using their coin to Wild Growth when it is unnecessary. When using the coin to cast Wild Growth, you should be asking yourself, “Do I have anything to play next turn?” If the answer is no, hold on to your coin so you can jump ahead a turn later in the game. It may make sense to coin out Wild Growth, since you essentially refund the coin for every turn after that (you use a mana crystal to gain the mana crystal permanently), but if you coin out Growth and then do nothing the turn after you pretty much threw away a coin for no reason when you could have saved it to hold on to and use the free mana crystal for later.
Ramp Druid Card Substitutions
- Ironbeak Owl – Personally, the only substitutions I would make for this card are Spellbreaker or Keeper of the Grove. Having a silence effect in your deck is pretty important these days and while I would advise you play Spellbreaker if not Ironbeak, the two damage option from Keeper of the Grove is not irrelevant.
- Tar Creeper – If you don’t find yourself running into much aggro, you can swap this out for another copy of Mire Keeper or even substitute in a bigger minion, like Giant Anaconda.
- Bright-Eyed Scout – While a solid curve card that can highroll a game, Scout can miss pretty badly. If you want to replace it, you can add in another Mire Keeper to fit the curve and add another ramp option or add in another big minion, like Giant Anaconda.
- Starfall – Like Tar Creeper, if you don’t run in to much aggro, you can swap this out for a card that is better against control. Again, my picks would be Mire Keeper number two or the second Giant Anaconda.
About the Author
Appa is a professional Hearthstone player with high finishes at multiple high-level events. He has been rated in the top 100 players in the world multiple times and brings a deep knowledge of the game with him. You can follow him on social media on Twitter or follow his weekly podcast that he co-hosts at Coin Concede.